This week’s Did You Know was written by an anonymous graduate of the University of Louisville, Southern Methodist University and Oxford University: The best description of a God-filled vision of the world can be found in an article by Margaret Prescott Montague, entitled Twenty Minutes of Reality: “I cannot say what the mysterious change was, or whether it came suddenly or gradually. I saw no new thing, but I saw all the usual things in a miraculous new light—in what I believe is their true light. I saw for the first time how wildly beautiful and joyous, beyond any words of mine to describe, is the whole of life…I knew that every man, woman, bird and tree, every living thing before me, was extravagantly important…Never before in my life had I seen how beautiful beyond all belief is a woman’s hair. A little sparrow chirped and flew to a nearby branch, and I honestly believed that only ‘the morning stars singing together and the sons of God shouting for joy can in the least express the ecstasy of a bird’s flight…I have seen life as it really is—ravishingly, ecstatically, madly beautiful, and filled to overflowing with a wild joy, and a value unspeakable.” The words from that famous verse in which God described the day of creation to Job, the music of the sphere’s and that extraordinary day “when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7), were used in the same way by John Wesley back in the eighteenth century to describe the way we must learn to see God’s glory in the world of nature. William James, in his “Variety of Religious Experience” collected a number of accounts of closely similar experiences. This was good evangelical theology—no, more than that, good spiritual teaching in the Great Tradition that went back for thousands of years.
The God Bearers: My story is my message. To learn to feel the presence of God we must also come into personal contact with one of the God-Bearers, some other human being who has learned how to develop his or her own God—consciousness, and is actually living this new way of life. It cannot be learned from reading just books. Talk with spiritual teachers, priests, rabbis, ministers and other spiritual mentors, who can show you the way to relate your defects and sins to the remedy. We must carry on from that point and play our part as spiritual obstetricians by carrying the message to others—and any prophecy it may contain. We must be filled with enough of the Holy Spirit to make spirituality real to us.
This is a vital principle which A.A. and other twelve-step groups took over and built into the basic structure of their programs. A.A. members commonly remind one another that “we are the only Big Book that most people are ever going to see.” But it goes well beyond that. If I am a member of a twelve-step group, I must speak and act in such a way that newcomers can see the love and compassion of God reflected in me, however imperfectly at times. Love is not words in a book; it must be felt in person to be truly understood. No one can learn how to feel God’s presence in any profound way except by being around people who have already learned how to feel God’s presence. But even more important in the twelve-step program is the basic principle that my story is my message and this is the way I communicate God—consciousness to someone else.
I must honestly reveal all of my flaws and inadequacies, and all the wrongs I have done. And I must also talk about the new world of hope in which I now live, and the way my life has been transformed by the power of spirituality. And I have to be there for newcomers to help them interpret what is happening to them by sharing what happened to me.
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